Great Expectations, Extraordinary Outcomes

Garry McGiboney, deputy superintendent for policy at the Georgia Department of Education, says it’s time we hold all schools in Georgia up to more exacting standards about climate. A school has a positive climate when teachers and staff make all students feel safe, secure, respected, and physically and emotionally at ease.

“It shouldn’t be a goal for every school in Georgia to have a positive climate. It should be an expectation,” says McGiboney. “When leadership changes, the goals change. When something becomes an expectation, does it change that easily? No. We expect it to happen.”

McGiboney describes a memorable meeting with a troubled teen while he was serving as a mental health crisis responder for a large school system nearly three decades ago. “She had tears running down her face and a look of desperation in her eyes—a look that said there’s no hope.” Then she broke the silence with a simple question: “Do you believe in unicorns?”

Find out how this completely unexpected conversation prompted a drastic change in school climate that impacted not only that one student’s trajectory but also countless others.

Go back to hear how Beth Capuson, coordinator of Seminole County Family Connection Collaborative from 2008 through 2015, inspired county leaders to collaborate in new ways with striking results.

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